Events in Kenya Deepen Our Commitment
With summer upon us in North America we reflect on the first half of the year at Elimu. Sad news from Kenya and additional challenges for Elimu had us looking closely at our goals and deepening our commitment to our projects. We remain optimistic about making a difference for children in Kenya. We remain thankful for all the good that we have been able to achieve through your ongoing generous support and hopeful for the future of all of our children.
Violence in Kenya Touches Our Children at Nyumbani Kwetu
Violence in the town of Mpeketoni, Kenya hit the international headlines on June 16, 2014. Most of you never heard the name Mpeketoni before. But it is a familiar name at Nyumbani Kwetu Home for Children. Two of our teenagers are at boarding high schools there. Thankfully, the violence did not reach them and the children were evacuated safely back to Malindi. In fact, before the news hit the Canadian media, our founder, Nina Chung, who is currently in Canada, heard of the attack via a text message and had confirmation that the schools had been spared and the students were all safe!
After two weeks of uncertainty at home, both teenagers are returning to school this week. The situation remains calm with no further unrest in the area and the town of Mpeketoni is rebuilding. We are thankful for our children’s safety and continue to monitor the situation.
Lower Canadian Dollar Means Higher Costs in Kenya
Elimu’s financial position suffered this year for a couple of reason. Firstly, from a drop in the Canadian dollar against the Kenyan Shilling. Goods that used to be covered by $100 now require $110. We know our costs are up because of the exchange rate and we realize this is part of working in a country like Kenya. We are doing our best to mitigate the situation. Secondly, with the recent terror attacks targeting the Coast Province, the tourism industry in the country has received another devastating blow. This is sure to increase the cost of living. That’s double pressure on our largely Canadian funded activities. It means renewing our fundraising efforts and greater caution in our spending.
Heri Ministries Sewing Project Produces Role Models
Beatrice and Rebecca both spent 2013 working from home and putting aside savings (something they learned about during their 2-year sewing program). This year they joined up and decided to relocate back to Malindi where they’ve taken jobs together at a local sewing workshop. They want to work with more experienced tailors to learn more clothing styles and business skills. Their sewing training has given these two young women the freedom to choose these options and the funding to make it happen.
Beatrice and Rebecca graduated in 2012 from Elimu’s Heri Ministries Sewing Project. Our graduates return to their rural homes, set up their sewing businesses and start to fend for themselves. They assist their own families with food, clothing, schooling; they teach others the skills they’ve acquired and not least of all, they act as role models to girls in their communities.
Nyumbani Kwetu Home for Children is Changing the Future
We’ve protected all of the children of Nyumbani Kwetu from the environment of drugs, alcohol and sex tourism which is all too accessible to them in Malindi. We’ve not only kept these children in school, but we’ve watched them grow in confidence and self-esteem. Our teenagers are all being guided towards jobs and careers in their futures that are attainable for them.
Some examples of where we’ve made a difference: Magdalene will graduate high school in two years. She was failing in Grade 7. Today, she is an A student with dreams of going to university to become a doctor. Anthony could not recognize a single letter or number when he came to us at the age of 7. Today, he can read and write in both English and Swahili and does well enough with Maths to get Cs and Bs. Lucy joined us at age 3 when she was a painfully shy and quiet child. Today she is a proud Grade 6 student at boarding school and enjoys performing traditional dances and songs in her drama club.
Our New Stay in School Sponsorship Project is Changing Lives
Helping kids at risk of dropping out to stay in school is a sure fire way to reduce idleness and hopelessness which is often the breeding ground for unrest and senseless violence in countries like
Kenya. This year Elimu’s Stay in School Project has kept several teenagers in high school that would otherwise now be idle. We’ve kept a family together which might have had to give up to the government the orphaned children of their relatives. We’ve helped improve the health of a single Mom with AIDS by taking the burden of school fees and tutoring costs off her shoulders. We mentored an orphaned high school graduate through the transition to finding work and looking after his own daily needs.
Upendo Is Effecting a Whole Community
We did it! We completed Upendo Early Childhood Education Center in December 2013. It provides quality education for over 120 of the youngest members of Sabaki Village. The bright spacious rooms of today’s Upendo Center are a huge advance over the one-room mud hut which used to host three class levels, 80 students and three teachers. Elimu’s plans for Upendo in the near future are to focus on management training and development.
We Are Still Committed To Making a Difference!
The recent violence served to remind us of and strengthen our motivation for getting involved with kids and education in Kenya. Giving today’s young people hope for a better future and greater control over their circumstances is key to reducing unrest and dissatisfaction and to promoting peace and stable relations between communities. We can’t help as many children as we’d like but with each child that we do help, we do touch many more lives.